Determined Bailey Matthews crosses the finish line after completing the Castle Howard Triathlon [SWNS]
An inspirational eight-year-old boy with cerebral palsy has completed his first triathlon - and it was an emotional one.
Bailey Matthews bravely ditched his walking aid as he approached the finish line, stumbling a couple of times before getting straight back up and completing the final 20 metres of the course unassisted - much to the crowd’s delight.
The home strait: delighted Bailey races towards the finish line [SWNS]
The Castle Howard Triathlon in North Yorkshire includes a 100m swim, 4km bike ride and 1.3km run, and is considered one of the country’s toughest courses.
Bailey’s proud parents said they were “overwhelmed” by the support from the crowd, who had stayed behind to watch Bailey’s fantastic finish.
His mum Julie Hardcastle said: “That was his way of finishing in style and showing everyone what he could do. It was the response from the crowd that pushed him to do that.“
Bailey, who lives in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, with his mum and brother Finlay, nine, was born nine weeks early but was not diagnosed with cerebral palsy until he was 18-months-old.
He became interested in taking on a triathlon when his dad, Jonathan Matthews, 47, started pushing him around a 5km course at a weekly Park Run event.
Jonathan then adapted a walking frame to allow Bailey to get round the course himself.
Bailey was born nine-weeks prematurely, but wasn’t diagnosed with cerebral palsy until he was 18-months-old [SWNS]
After telling his dad that he wanted to take on a triathlon, Bailey began training on a bike fitted with special stabilisers and swimming in a local lake.
Jonathan said: "The majority of what he does is self-propelled. He sets his own goals when he is swimming and says ‘I am going to do x amount of metres today’.
“He is more than eager to get out and do something. If we can make that easier for him then that is what we will do.
He added: “The response has been quite overwhelming. One lady asked us if
he did it as a sponsorship thing, but he just did it because it was something
he wanted to do.
"The Castle Howard Triathlon is a very difficult, rough course, there is no way
in the world he could do it unaided, because of how undulating and uneven
the ground was. It would have been very difficult even for able-bodied
"Because of the size and weight of his walking frame, it is sometimes
easier for him to walk unaided than to drag it along.
“The response of the spectators was overwhelming, he came last but everyone was waiting for him, which they didn’t have to do.”
Victory!: Bailey finished last, but was a winner in the eyes of the crowd - and his proud parents [SWNS]
Julie said: “Bailey has always been very determined. If he wants to do something he will find a way to do it, even if it is not the conventional way.
And while everyday tasks such as getting dressed can be a struggle, Bailey doesn’t let it bother him.
“He doesn’t see himself as different to anyone else,” Julie continues. “We have always tried to make sure that if there is something he wants to do, there is no such word as ‘can't’.
“He had made his mind up, we knew he would do it but I didn’t expect the reaction from everyone else - the response we have had from other people has been amazing. He inspires us all the time.”